Category: Poetry

Paul David Adkins – Poem

Paul David Adkins – Poem

When he spied the cell blocks burning,
the warden asked,

     Why are they destroying their home?

I’ll tell you why. Because you 

paid us for hard labor with change peeled from beneath bus station coke machines.

Because your Christmas gift to the laundry “boy”
was a carton of Lucky Strikes.

Because you were untouchable, unreachable.

You fed the Muslims pork. You gave the white boys ice in summer. Us, a cold Get lost.

The prison doctors treated broken bones
with a plaster-wrapped shrug.

         Why are they destroying their home? 

Because it was your present.

Author Bio
Paul David Adkins lives in Northern NY. He served in the US Army from 1991-2013. Recently, he earned a MA in Writing and The Oral Tradition from The Graduate Institute, Bethany, CT. He spends his days either counseling soldiers or teaching college students in a NY state correctional facility.

Hooky – Gerard Sarnat

Hooky – Gerard Sarnat

Back in high school days, 
although this rookie 
liked Classical Music Appreciation,
I pushed Ms. Moore to the limit 
baiting her during senior year  
to flunk me if missed class
— which she didn’t. 

Today my grandson just turns off Zoom’s camera. 

Author’s Bio
Gerard Sarnat won San Francisco Poetry’s 2020 Contest, the Poetry in the Arts First Place Award plus the Dorfman Prize, and has been nominated for handfuls of recent Pushcarts plus Best of the Net Awards. Gerry is widely published including in Buddhist Poetry Review, Gargoyle, Main Street Rag, New Delta Review, Northampton Review, New Haven Poetry Institute, Texas Review, Vonnegut Journal, Brooklyn Review, San Francisco Magazine, The Los Angeles Review, and The New York Times as well as by Harvard, Stanford, Dartmouth, Penn, Chicago and Columbia presses. He’s authored the collections Homeless Chronicles (2010), Disputes (2012), 17s (2014), Melting the Ice King (2016). Gerry is a physician who’s built and staffed clinics for the marginalized as well as a Stanford professor and healthcare CEO. Currently he is devoting energy/ resources to deal with climate justice, and serves on Climate Action Now’s board. Gerry’s been married since 1969 with three kids plus six grandsons, and is looking forward to future granddaughters.
gerardsarnat.com


Paul David Adkins – Poem

Paul David Adkins – Poem

As a former Marine, I knew the dangers,
knew I’d earn the Medal of Honor in ‘Nam.

I got a Dishonorable instead, and this prison stretch.

I knew I’d be famous. I never gave up.

I slipped word to reporters – There are 
chinks in the armor, division in our ranks.

Other inmates saw me, seized the note, 
tried me for treason,
banged a ballpeen hammer on a card table.

My cell was a circle dug in “D” Yard with a boot heel.

Before my countrymen laid me on the altar of a metal bunk,
they gave me water, combed my hair, fed me the only

unbruised Red Delicious ripped from the burnt commissary. 

Author Bio
Paul David Adkins lives in Northern NY. He served in the US Army from 1991-2013. Recently, he earned a MA in Writing and The Oral Tradition from The Graduate Institute, Bethany, CT. He spends his days either counseling soldiers or teaching college students in a NY state correctional facility.

Rose Knows – Zach Murphy

Rose Knows – Zach Murphy

Every autumn day Rose passes by the hot air balloon field in Stillwater, wishing she had enough money in order to go up for just one ride.

Last winter had not just taken a toll on Rose; it took nearly everything she had left. Now, she has a frostbitten toe and a frostbitten heart.

Rose knows that even the happiest golden leaves grow weary when they catch the first gust of winter’s harsh might. Rose knows that if the sun ever decides to go away for good she’ll try to make it promise to come back. Rose knows that if she would have had her life together, her adopted boy Frankie would still talk to her.

Across the air balloon field, sits a pawn shop. A pawn shop is a depressing place when you’ve got nothing to pawn, nothing to sell, and not enough means to buy anything. A job application turns into a hopeless slate the moment you see “Three years of experience needed.” 

After staring at her weathered reflection in the pawn shop window, Rose turns around toward the field and observes an unattended hot air balloon. She crosses through the dewy green grass, looks around, and decides to hop into the balloon’s gondola. 

The balloon is much bigger than Rose thought it would be. Her eyes widen as she gazes up at the balloon’s bright rainbow colors. Suddenly, a pair of balloon tour guides run toward her, yelling “Stop!” 

Rose quickly unravels the ropes from the ground, boosts the propane flame, and takes off into the sky. From this view, the falling leaves look like fluttering butterflies. Rose knows that when she comes down she’ll be in a lot of trouble. So she squints up at the sun and gives the balloon some more power.

Author Bio
Zach Murphy is a Hawaii-born writer with a background in cinema. His stories appear in Adelaide Literary MagazineMystery TribuneGhost City ReviewSpelk FictionLevitateYellow Medicine ReviewEllipsis ZineWilderness House Literary ReviewDrunk Monkeys, and Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine. He lives with his wonderful wife Kelly in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The problem with Villanelles by Zebulon Huset

The problem with Villanelles by Zebulon Huset

The problem with Villanelles

is the repetition of sound,
like alarm clock beeps—
depressing, as the day’s crowned

with sounds bound
to meanings that repeat
the repetition of sounds’

redundant mound
of blah-blah-blah-bleep!
Depressing, as the day’s crowned

with less and less profound
combinations, as linguistics seep
from the repetition of sounds

we’ve come to frown
upon as the daily grind, the common, cheap
and depressing as days crowned

with sameness. The villanelle’s fault is it rounds
up meanings and sounds, familiar as life’s retreat
into the repetition of sounds,
depressing as the day’s crown.

Author Bio
Zebulon Huset is a teacher, writer and photographer living in San Diego. He won the Gulf Stream 2020 Summer Poetry Contest and his writing has appeared in Meridian, The Southern Review, Fence, Atlanta Review & Texas Review among others. He publishes the writing blog Notebooking Daily, edits the journals Coastal Shelf and Sparked, and recommends literary journals at TheSubmissionWizard.com.

An Afternote to a Book Without Us – Holly Day

An Afternote to a Book Without Us – Holly Day

An Afternote to a Book Without Us

Cockroaches raced along the ground here long before

there were dark alleys and rancid dumpsters,

truck drivers and greasy spoon diners, old hamburger wrappers

to curl up inside. Before we were here, cockroaches

scuttled in the nests of dinosaurs, fed on the sticky albumin

of newly-hatched eggs, dug tunnels in massive piles of fecal matter,

were old even then. They lived through

the asteroids, the second and third great extinctions,

left petrified footprints in the mud

alongside our first bipedal ancestors.

They will be here to see the last flower of humanity

wilt in the heat of cataclysm, will polish our bones

with their tiny, patient mandibles, will lay their eggs

in our shirt pockets and empty hats. There will be

no great cockroach takeover,

no post-apocalyptic ascension to superiority—

they will always just be, chitinous wings fluttering,

scurrying, squeaking in the dark.


Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Grain, and Harvard Review. Her newest poetry collections are Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing), Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press), Cross Referencing a Book of Summer (Silver Bow Publishing), and The Tooth is the Largest Organ in the Human Body (Anaphora Literary Press).


I Will Not Be – Holly Day

I Will Not Be – Holly Day

An Afternote to a Book Without Us

Hand in hand, fingers turn to claws and I

still know you inside that mask of anger, I

can still see the person I will always fall

in love with behind those bright eyes,

am I going to die tonight? I wonder.

Walk with me softly past the corner

where we first kissed. Here, under the street lamp,

the exact spot where you said you loved me

over and over again, do you remember?

I do. I do. This is us, so many years later,

and there is only ice when we speak,

but do you remember? I wonder.


Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Grain, and Harvard Review. Her newest poetry collections are Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing), Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press), Cross Referencing a Book of Summer (Silver Bow Publishing), and The Tooth is the Largest Organ in the Human Body (Anaphora Literary Press).




Another Woman Talking to Herself – Holly Day

Another Woman Talking to Herself – Holly Day

This is the first of three poems by Holly that we will be posting, which should be the last three pieces we share with you all this spring. Our print issue is currently in the process of being approved, and it will be available to all of you very soon! Keep an eye out for any further announcements on that front. Without further ado, here is “Another Woman Talking to Herself.” Enjoy.

Another Woman Talking to Herself

Overcome with regret, she cradles him in her arms

before reluctantly devouring his headless corpse. Later, she will lay

a clutch of white, oval eggs, knowing

her daughters will eat her sons someday.

The mantis has no voice for her sorrow, her grief at the loss

of her brief love affair. The crickets take up her song instead

a chorus of chirps that fills the night with shadows.


Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Grain, and Harvard Review. Her newest poetry collections are Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing), Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press), Cross Referencing a Book of Summer (Silver Bow Publishing), and The Tooth is the Largest Organ in the Human Body (Anaphora Literary Press).

Wrinkles – Fabrice Poussin

Wrinkles – Fabrice Poussin

Wrinkles

The boy looked at his hands.

Something had changed.

Now he saw two useless wrinkly palms

speckled with spots he once had spied

upon the leathery flesh of an ancestor.

Child still, he caught the shine of a wheel

attempting to roll forward

upon a sterile floor of bland linoleum,

inhaling a perfume now too familiar:

like ether, chlorine, and formaldehyde.

Teenager, he noticed his chest heaving,

a throbbing near the surface of a blueish river.

In awe at the sight of a life that refuses to give up.

Thoughts slowed to ponder the moment.

Seconds seemed like hours in this padded box.

Young hunter, he could still feel those legs

resembling a mummy’s shrunken flesh,

swimming within the sweet memories

of a chase against the hare, determined to survive,

and the sweet taste of the gamy flesh upon his heart.

Unable to lift those arms, once so potent,

the green of his eyes fades into a gauze,

letting the old soul drift into slumber at last.

Newborn blinded by the lights of another sun, he continues to write his own intimate history.


Fabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University. Author of novels and poetry, his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and many other magazines. His photography has been published in The Front Porch Review, San Pedro River Review, and other publications.

Stellar Friends – Fabrice Poussin

Stellar Friends – Fabrice Poussin

Stellar Friends

Afraid to look back, hiding the secrets of her intimacy,

he can only shed light on the truths revealed to all.

Shy to the present, she reveals all to eternity.

Her vulnerable past shelters her in false security.

She fears little, gliding in the heights of the stratosphere.

Her coyness may be the only armor she requires,

surrounded by the icy embrace of darkest depths,

her dreams of a star she keeps a secret.

A gentle glow vibrates at the center of her gravity,

the pulse growing to unimaginable breadth.

She may conquer the neighboring galaxies

as she escapes from the dangers below.

Her future will be safe as she continues to ascend,

faithful to the distant moon, worshipped by the sun.

I will follow her luminous shadow at a distance 

to protect the passion, sole source of her being.


Fabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University. Author of novels and poetry, his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and many other magazines. His photography has been published in The Front Porch Review, San Pedro River Review, and other publications.